Dear friends, Here is great news. When you put these stories together with the "Beautiful Resistance" story (which I sent out to many people on Dec. 30, the story of how a peace vigil in Leipzig succeeded), you see there is hope for the "forces" of nonviolence (also known as love in some circles:). ... Maybe WW III will be won by persuasion and caring, rather than with bullets and tanks! all the best, Jan ********************************************************** Date: Thu, 14 Feb 2002 10:00:14 -0800 From: Tom Atlee <•••@••.•••> Subject: When peace emerges from shared pain Dear friends, Some say it is the meditation being done for peace. Some say it is the work being done for peace. Some say it is the demonstrations. Some say it is the rise of violence to a fever pitch that invites its own backlash. But in some places, peace seems to be breaking out rather remarkably. Read the following inspiring stories from Israel and Sri Lanka, two of the most war-torn regions in the world. Then, if you wish, read my thoughts which follow. Coheartedly, Tom _ _ _ _ _ _ A PEACE MIRACLE IN ISRAEL From Eryn Kalish, Rosa Zubizarreta and Michael Bridge From: "Jewish Peace News" <•••@••.••• Date: Sun, 10 Feb 2002 14:59:15 -0800 Subject: [JPN] Svirsky: Imagine All the People Reply- [Gila Svirsky, of the Coalition of Women for a Just Peace in Israel, sends us this report of the mass rally in Tel Aviv yesterday, sponsored by almost every peace group in Israel (with the notable, unfortunate, yet not surprising exception of Peace Now). A list of the sponsors is at the end of the article. Svirsky lists some of the signs held aloft in the demonstration, and reports on some of the things said in speeches at this rally. Uri Avnery, veteran peace activist, former member of the Irgun Zvai Leumi during the days of Israel's war of independence, and prolific author and writer spoke of his change of heart regarding the refusal to serve in the Israeli armed forces. "I once disagreed with refusal to serve in the army, but today I salute those who will not serve. Refusal is the beginning of the end of the occupation." Some other wonderful and inspiring comments are noted. Of particular interest is the recasting of the traditional Zionist song, "Ein li eretz aheret" ("I have no other [home]land"). She notes that singing the song, as they did, in both Hebrew and Arabic casts it in a new light of unification and shared experience. Svirsky says, "For the Arabs in the crowd, the song suddenly became theirs, too, and for the Jews, it meant a land we both love deeply." The Israeli peace movement has reawakened, and in a more decisive and strong form than ever. - MP] 10 February 2002 Friends, We knew there would be a big turnout for the peace demonstration last night just from the deluge of pro-peace ads in Ha'aretz the day before - page after page of statements and petitions, all critical of the occupation. Some excerpts: ***"There is a choice!" An expanded new list of 200 combat officers and soldiers who refuse to serve in the army of occupation. ***"There's a limit!" Support for the new soldiers, and the names of others who have consistently refused to serve, placed by Yesh Gvul. ***"We support the soldiers who refuse to serve the occupation" - a petition placed by civilian supporters. ***"Peres, you are a collaborator in war-crimes!" placed by Gush Shalom. ***"Do not say 'we did not see, we did not know' - the price of keeping the territories" - placed by the Israel Committee Against House Demolitions. ***"A Recipe for National Suicide" - placed by a private citizen. And a huge, blood-red ad, "The Occupation is Killing Us All", signed by the 28 organizations that came together to hold last night's impressive rally in Tel-Aviv (full list below). This was the largest pro-peace rally since this Intifada began in September 2000, with an estimated 10,000 participants - Jews and Arabs from all over Israel filling the large Tel-Aviv Museum plaza. The mood is clearly swinging in Israel, and the homemade signs of people who had not attended a demonstration for years reflected the new thinking - "Stop Sharon before he kills us all", "More conscientious objectors!", "Occupation itself is a war crime", and all permutations of "Share Jerusalem", "Dismantle Settlements", and "Bring our soldiers home". By the time veteran peace activist Yehudit Harel opened the ceremony, the crowd was a mass of people amazed and buoyed by each other's presence, with a great deal of hugging by people glad to be sharing the moment. And then Yehudit's opening words in fluent Hebrew and Arabic set the tone for the entire evening - we Israeli Jews and Arabs together will no longer abide the crimes that the Israeli government is carrying out. "There is only one flag held aloft here today," said Yehudit, "and it is the black flag of pain, mourning, death, bereavement, and the immorality of war crimes that are being committed in our name." At her words, hundreds of black flags were raised high by the crowd, symbolizing the statement made years ago by an Israeli court that if a military order has "a black flag of immorality" hanging over it, the order must be refused. This was a rally in which the young men who refused to serve in the army of occupation were the heroes of the evening, receiving ovation after ovation at every mention. "I once disagreed with refusal to serve in the army," said Uri Avnery to the crowd, "but today I salute those who will not serve. Refusal is the beginning of the end of the occupation." Some of these brave young men have been stripped of their command, demoted, and face court martial, but continue to answer to their conscience. "How can we serve in an army that kills children?" asked Yishai Rosen-Zvi, an Orthodox tank corps sergeant in the reserves, "How can we serve an army that demolishes homes, does not allow the sick to get medical attention, seeks to humiliate an entire population, and reduces them to hunger and poverty?" Between speakers and sometimes during them, the crowd broke into chanting of familiar slogans: "Fuad, Fuad, Minister of Defense, How many kids did you kill today?" "Occupation, No! Peace, Yes!", "Money for the poor, not for settlers!" It was a rally in which the stage was shared by Arabs and Jews, women and men, Mizrahim and Ashkenazim, young and old, religious and secular. Distinguished elderly author Sammy Michael pointed out the futility of the ongoing occupation: "Death is not a threat to people who willingly give their lives for a cause." And Shulamit Aloni, former government minister and perennial conscience of Israel, called out her message of hope, "All of you here today are the harbingers of a mass movement that already has begun. You will be the teachers of democracy to this government. You will set an example of morality. We shall clean out the crimes of this country and fill it with peace!" There were many moments that brought tears to my eyes last night. I will tell you of two: Famed singer Ahinoam Nini (known as "Noa", I believe, to her American fans) took the risk of alienating her Israeli right-wing fans, and sang to the crowd a Hebrew, Arabic, and English version of "Imagine" by the Beatles: "You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one; I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will be as one." And the other was the transformation of a beloved Zionist song "Ein li eretz aheret". Reciting this song in two languages, Hebrew and Arabic, suddenly infused it with new meaning: "I have no other country to go to. And even if the land is burning under my feet, this is my home." For the Arabs in the crowd, the song suddenly became theirs, too, and for the Jews, it meant a land we both love deeply. I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will be as one. Gila Svirsky Jerusalem Sponsoring organizations: Association of Arab University Students / Baladna / BANKI / Bat Shalom / Coalition of Women for a Just Peace / Druse Initiative Committee / Du Siach / Gush Shalom / HaCampus Lo Shotek, Tel-Aviv University / Hadash Youth / Israeli Committtee Against House Demolitions / Kol Aher BaGalil /Kvisa Sh'hora: Lesbians and Gay Men Against the Occupation / Left Forum, Haifa University / MachsomWatch / Meretz Youth / Monitoring Committee of the Arab Population in Israel / NELED / Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salaam / New Profile / Noga / TANDI / Ta'ayush: Arab-Jewish Partnership / Tajamu Youth / WILPF / Women and Mothers for Peace (formerly Four Mothers) / Women in Black / Yesh Gvul Coalition of Women for a Just Peace: http://www.coalitionofwomen4peace.org Jewish Peace News (JPN) http://www.jewishvoiceforpeace.org SUBSCRIBE to our daily "news and information" service by sending a message to: •••@••.••• JOIN the Jewish Voice for Peace community mailing list (no more than one message per week), which features Middle East peace information and local Jewish community activist updates, by sending a message to: •••@••.••• ************************************************** ************************************************** ************************************************** A PEACE MIRACLE IN SRI LANKA Howdy-- I've just arrived for what may be a pivotal trip to Sri Lanka. From all accounts, it seems like peace is breaking out all over! This is a very delicate time, but (I think) time for some delicate optimism. Changing Consciousness: From the outset of our current "peace offensive", Dr. A. T. Ariyaratne stated that the purpose of the Sarvodaya Peace Initiative was to change the "psychosphere", the field of consciousness that surrounds all people, all beings on the island. The idea was to change the consciousness of war, to change people's THINKING so that war would be unthinkable and peace inevitable. The way we would accomplish this is by getting hundreds of thousands of people meditating for peace. Many people, including many veterans of the peace and conflict resolution movements, scoffed at this idea. The notion of "doing nothing" (how they see meditating) to stop war and violence was viewed with skepticism. The idea of not supporting one side or another as the "victim" seemed wrongheaded. What good would just sitting around meditating do? Another scoffing point: in our strategy, we spent less time talking to "leaders" and much more time talking to common people. "What good will that do? It's the leaders who have the power to stop or continue the war. Talking to people who don't have power is a waste of time." One well-known peace activist dismissed our approach as "minor league". Over the course of the past two years of my involvement, things have seemed pretty grim. As we instituted the peace meditations and the other elements of the Sarvodaya Peace Action Plan, it seemed as though Ari's strategy was going nowhere. Military attacks escalated, including aerial bombing of the Tiger-held villages of the North. Increased suicide bombings, including one attack that barely missed killing the President. Increased communal violence. This past July, the stunning attack on the international airport, destroying an already weak tourist industry. Ominous reports that the government was importing chemical warfare agents. Then, as if by magic.... In the stretch of only two months, there are so many hopeful signs of peace, it is difficult to count them all. The government and the Tamil Tigers seem to be trying to outdo each other in peace gestures!!! --Both sides have declared mutual and unilateral ceasefires. And, miraculously, the ceasefires are holding, with no reported violent incidents on either side. --The government has removed many of the roadblocks and military checkpoints, both in the capital city and throughout the country. --The Tamil Tigers have removed barricades and de-mined many of the roads through territory it holds. And, in a surprising development, the Tigers have agreed to open the "A-9" roadway through the northern third of the island, right through the center of the Tigers' stronghold. This road has been closed for two decades, and has been the scene of many bloody battles, as the government troops attempted (and failed) on several occasions to blast a route to the north. By the end of this month (February), it will be possible to drive from one end of the island to the other. For the first time in 19 years. --Not to be outdone, the government has significantly eased the economic embargo of the Tiger-held areas, allowing vital foods and supplies to be delivered in realistic quantities. --The government has also eased movement restrictions to and from the Tiger-held areas, increasing the flow of people traveling from 1,200 per week to over 3,500 per week. They also eased the nonsensical bureaucratic paperwork requirements for travel. -- The Tigers have started returning captured government troops to their families. These peace gestures have led to some rather interesting developments: --Uniformed Tigers have shown up at government checkpoints, where they have been given escorted tours of government-held villages, and allowed to return to the Tiger-held areas. (In other times, they would be arrested or shot on sight.) --A busload of government police officers took a wrong turn and wound up on a road controlled by the Tamil Tigers. In other days, they would have been killed, and their weapons and vehicles confiscated. Now, in these new times, the Tigers stopped them, treated them to soft drinks, and then gave them an escort back out to the main road. So, has the island turned into paradise on Earth? Not quite, and not yet. The parties have taken each of these moves unilaterally. They have yet to negotiate and sign a peace agreement. And, there is a small number of vociferous "hard-liners" who are dead set against any peace agreement between the parties. We all know the situation in the Middle East, where hard-line elements were able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by a series of provocative moves designed to inflame negative passions on all sides. The same can happen here. The Sarvodaya People's Peace Operation for 2002 To insure that peace stays on the right track, Ari has called for a massive peace demonstration in mid-March. He is calling for 500,000 people to gather in the ancient northern city of Anuradapura. That's right – HALF A MILLION PEOPLE!! Who says the little guy doesn't think big? And, given Sarvodaya's track record of bringing people together in mass meditations, it's possible for Sarvodaya to double that figure. Needless to say, this is taking some unbelievable logistical arrangements. Just think: where do you park the buses that have transported 500,000 people? What kind of sound system is needed? How do you translate all of this into the three dominant languages on the island? Where do 500,000 people go to the toilet – in a country devoid of porta-jons? Stay tuned… It's Not Magic.... All of these changes (and more to come) are not the result of some "magical" force or power. It is the result of the application of PROVEN METHODOLOGIES in changing consciousness and changing behavior. The Sarvodaya approach to development, peace and spiritual awakening. Commonway's parallel and complimentary approach to the Philosophy of Inclusivity. We know what to do. In Sri Lanka, with Dr. Ariyaratne's patient leadership, we have shown that we can shift the field of consciousness. Our task now is to continue the shift. There will be others who may claim "credit" for the recent outbreaks of peace. There will be those who may believe that their violence was the cause of peace, that pouring gasoline on a fire will extinguish it. --The Tigers may claim that their attack on the airport forced a change of government. --The hardliners may claim that the continued military attacks forced the Tigers to peace. -- George Bush may claim that his "war on terrorism" scared both parties to the negotiating table. Let them make their claims. We know better. Peace, Sharif Sharif M. Abdullah COMMONWAY INSTITUTE P.O. BOX 12541 Portland, OR 97212 http://www.commonway.org _ _ _ _ _ _ ___ _ _ _ _ TOM'S REFLECTIONS What DOES cause such gigantic, sudden changes? I have a feeling that no single cause that people cite uniquely creates phenomena like this. On the other hand, neither is any of the many factors without its unique contribution to the whole, which is greater than the sum of its parts. I suspect that what leads to sudden, gigantic remarkable events -- both "good" and "bad" -- is a nonlinear but compelling accumulation or synergistic dance of factors, such that we cannot predict the next step, but somewhere one more snowflake falls and a rock heats up just a little bit more and twenty thousand tons of snow avalanche down a surprised and suddenly deluged mountainside. Everything we do, or don't do, plays a role in the mounting tension, often in ways we will never know. Our intentions, purposes, assumptions, values, and visions play a major role in aligning these activities with an invisible hand into a shared course (like the grain in wood or the flow of a stream) and, after a time of invisible build-up and tense quivering complementarities that some people can feel but no one can identify for sure, something suddenly shifts, and a new reality emerges that wasn't there before. We see this sort of thing happen over and over again -- from riots to the Berlin Wall coming down. Then the debates start about "what caused" it. Such debates are valuable -- especially to us who witness them without taking sides -- because they provide information about the full fabric of change, the many strands of varied texture and color which weave what happens next. In one sense, the arguing partisans miss out, mistaking their strand for the whole. Our belief in causality -- which plays out so nicely in laboratories and mechanical systems -- provides precious little insight into complex living systems, with their chaos, nuance and infinite detail. And yet this is all not so simple. We cannot say the partisan is "wrong" for being so attached to their "cause". In fact, their belief in their favorite causal factor -- and in the efforts it implies and the goal towards which it strives -- all the things that make a Cause -- generates the energy with which they weave their particular strand in the fabric of change. Their belief is part of the life of the complex living system as it unfolds towards the avalanche in its future. It could be said that the destination and the route call forth the journey -- or at least our belief in a particular destination and route. Our belief in meditation or in peace work or in force as a way to peace, draws us into the great drama of change, so that we can play our role with a degree of passion and certainty. And then our actual full role ends up being much more and different than we ever dreamed. The conflict between dove and hawk, for instance, may need to rise to a fever pitch -- to levels of atrocity, horror and shared pain -- before it has enough energy to crack open the fixed patterns of thought, behavior and institution that block the outpouring of heart needed to heal a fragmented society. The dove never wanted that much pain to happen, and feared that too much pain would block the peace from ever coming. And the hawk thought that increasing the other side's pain and not their own side's would be what brought the peace. But neither foresaw that it was only an extremity of pain on both sides which would have the power to trigger the healing. And yet, even if we understand this, it is hard to promote the extremity of pain, and it is risky, for extremities of pain can trigger disaster, too. Which is what makes a complex living system unpredictable, alive and morally challenging to be part of. And so I can wonder whether it is the esoteric force of many prayers in the psychosphere (or the political force of many bodies in the city square) that shifts things towards peace, or whether it is God (or the Government) responding to the intensity of those voices, or whether it is the preconditions necessary for mass prayer (or mass demonstration) that "causes" the shift. I can wonder about all this. But I don't have to "know" an answer -- unless an answer would help me play my role well and energetically. In a funny way, there is no way to play our roles wrong. And no way to know if we are playing our roles correctly. There is only the effort to play our roles with authenticity, passion and caring, and with as much awareness as we can muster, knowing that our whole lives are part of larger and often mysterious forces at work in the world, and that they are part of us. Some people trust those forces to be Benign. I just try to sense what they are and find ways to work with them on behalf of Life. All of us are telling stories to ourselves, to make meaning. May our many stories about what is happening and why, find a harmony that brings us the greatest healing and learning for the least amount of necessary pain. My story is that co-intelligence is our capacity to find that optimal, harmonious path together. I am only beginning to learn that our conscious ways of being co-intelligent are only part of that picture. More than anything, it is all still exploration.... Coheartedly, Tom PS: Feel free to support this ongoing exploration with a donation. It is one way to play a role in the fabric of change. On behalf of Life's efforts create a world that makes sense for all, I thank those who've made this exploration possible up to this point. ________________________________ Tom Atlee * The Co-Intelligence Institute * PO Box 493 * Eugene, OR 97440 http://www.co-intelligence.org * http://www.democracyinnovations.org Please support our work. * Your donations are fully tax-deductible.